The authors applied a constructivist interpretivist research approach within a phenomenological research paradigm. They considered that this was most appropriate in order to make a valid and reliable contribution to knowledge. The outcome of this research is applicable to both academics and practitioners. The aim and purpose of this research, in line with the research questions and hypotheses from Section 1.3, are to suggest what makes an effective and efficient language teacher based on the work that has already been done at the UO in Santiago de Cuba and what is planned in future. It is important that foreign language teachers can experience new approaches and methods themselves to confirm that these are valid and reliable. The authors consider that the change in expectations to develop new tools and techniques for teaching foreign languages (Section 1.1) is the likely reason why foreign language teachers are under increasing pressures to respond to these new demands in a proactive and positive manner. Thirteen final year undergraduate students from the Faculty of Humanities and thirty-three undergraduate students from the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Universidad de Oriente (UO) in Santiago de Cuba were interviewed by the authors during face to face and focus group meetings. The authors who have over 50 years of theoretical and practical work experience were acting as participatory observers to facilitate this research. The interviews were conducted in early 2013 in Santiago and recorded verbatim to ensure that all responses were captured correctly, including meaning as intended. Interviews were semi-structured. Participants’ ages ranged from 19 years to 24 years and they had between three and four years of practical work experience of applying foreign language skills acting as translators and interpreters. The participants were asked for their insights to answer the main research questions from Section 1.3, using their own theoretical and practical experiences from the past and the present.
Table 1 is a summary of the questions that were asked during the face to face and focus group meetings. The first objective of the face to face interviews was to review the outcome of the literature review and confirm whether the research data from the literature review was relevant and admissible as evidence for this research. The second objective was to consider how language teachers need to apply these kills in a practical way in classroom situations and to confirm what makes an effective foreign language teacher. The purpose of the focus group was to review the contributions the individuals made during the face to face meetings, in a group environment, to check whether these findings, together with the outcome from the literature review, could be verified and improved. The focus group reviewed and checked the findings from the literature review and the face to face interviews and made final recommendations that would be of practical value to suggest what makes an effective foreign language teacher and what the associated teaching approaches and methods are. The authors applied three methods to collect relevant research data to answer the main research questions and hypotheses from Section 1.3: a review of the literature (Section 1.2), face to face interviews (Section 3.1) and a focus group meeting (Section 3.2), within the context of a phenomenological research paradigm and an associated constructivist interpretivist research approach. The authors were thus able to get closer to the subject matter under investigation. They have added their own interpretations of what makes an effective foreign language teacher and associated teaching approaches and methods, in their role as participant observers. This research approach allowed for the collection of different perceptions of the phenomena under investigation. All research data was collected over a period of three months. The authors applied triangulation as a means to use a combination of different methods in order to reduce reliance on a single research method and to ensure that the use of all data was consistent and coherent.
Table 1. Research Questionnaire: Practical Language Skills Teaching
|1.||What is your definition of Language Skills Teaching?|
|2.||What are the aspects you associate with effective language skills teaching?|
|3.||What is your view on the claim that the concept of practical language skills teaching is a desirable and effective methodology?|
|4.||What potential problems do you associate with practical language skills teaching?|
|5.||What are your personal practical experiences with practical Language Skills Teaching -give some real life/practical examples/feedback on the course Why did it work for you?Why did it not work for you?|